Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bean Counting (Growing Challenge)

I just finished my taxes and submitted them electronically; thank goodness for the ease and efficiency of online filing. In celebration of completing part of my civic duty, I thought I would spend some time with the beans that I will plant this spring.

Next weekend, I'll be planting this beauty, Blue Coco, a pre-19th Century French heirloom, that promises to be a real looker. It is a vigorous grower with purple tinged leaves and dark purple beans. It is also supposed to be tough, able to tolerate both heat and drought. I'll plant it in one of the pots that I've prepared for growing pole beans.

In two weekends, the next two varieties will go in the plot. The first is a dry bean, a Native American heirloom that matures early and supposedly cooks up to creamy-beany goodness. It is called Indian Woman Yellow, and is a bush bean that I've been wanting to grow forever. I'm curious how productive it will be and how worthwhile it will to be to grow dry beans in my limited spaces. Perhaps, since it is so early maturing, I'll be able to grow a couple rounds and thereby increase my yields.

The second is a bush wax bean that I'll also plant directly in the garden. Pencil Pod Wax debuted in 1900 and sounds like it has stood the test of time. The variety also promises to be able to continue to produce once the heat comes. Although the dry seeds are long and black, the fresh pods are pale yellow and crisp.

Sometime in the middle of next month, once the weather does begin to warm up, I'll plant the Asian yardlong beans my brother sent me. They have small, black seeds and long, flexible pods. I've never even eaten them before, but I'm excited by the prospect of growing a bean that not only endures the heat, but thrives in it. They'll go in the other pot I've prepared for pole beans.

And finally, if I can scrounge up a little space somewhere, highly unlikely but I can't give up the hope, I'll also try out a couple Contender bush beans, sweet green beans that are crisp, productive, and disease-resistant.

I may be finished with my taxes, but I think the bean counting is just beginning.


Anonymous said...

Amazing, it's like you're planting and continuing a piece of history for some of the beans. Can't wait to see how they turn out.

Anonymous said...

I like growing beans too, and I hope to have several different kinds this year.

pam said...

Can you grow beans in pots??

Christina said...

Teresa: I'm really attracted to the old varieties for multiple reasons, one of which you mention: growing them makes me part of their history.

Patrick: Let us know what varieties you grow--I'm quite curious!

Pam: Yes! Choose a large pot with plenty of room for roots. Just as you would need to if you were growing beans in a plot that had never hosted beans before, you'll need to inoculate the soil. I'll be posting about this in the next couple of weeks, so you can watch this site for more details.

Wendy said...

Oh good, I just read your comment to Pat about inoculating the soil. I had meant to ask you about this as I suspect I'll need to do it too.
Very impressed by your bean plans.

Christa said...

Now that's a good kind of bean counting! I can't wait to see how they do for you.

By the way, to answer the question you left on my blog -- yes, I would love to save seeds and do a seed swap this fall. Or even now?? I have some extras of the bull nose peppers and other varieties. My garden is so tiny that I hardly ever plant an entire package of most things.

If there is something in particular you would like to swap, please e-mail me. calendula1 AT

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

Christina--This wonderful post reminds me of talking to my dear Aunt Veta in Southern Mississippi about the speckled butter beans she and Uncle James used to grow in their garden. And anything that makes me think of Aunt Veta is a good thing.

Chris said...

hi, just stumbled on your blog when trying to figure out my fava beans. i will try trimming the tops. where do you buy or order your seeds? maybe i should give some other beans a chance, too (in san diego).
lovely blog!

Anonymous said...

Yellow Indian Woman beans are amazing. I picked some up at the farmer's market in Boulder last year and they were soooooo delicious. You're going to absolutely love them. I'm so jealous!

winedeb said...

Thank you for sharing your bean count! I only had 2 pots of pole beans but harvested enough so far for a meal! I anxiously await your success with your beans in pots! Where did you get your heirloom beans? Will you be saving the seeds from your harvest to plant again next year?

Christina said...

Terry B.: Is your Aunt Veta still around? If so, it would be wonderful to get my hands on some of her seeds and help, in my way, to keep her story around. If not, I'm sorry--she sounds like a wonderful person to have in your life.

Chris: Welcome to A Thinking Stomach. Green beans should grow well for you in San Diego--in fact, you can plant them this month for a nice, late-spring/early-summer harvest. I get my seeds from a variety of sources. The beans I just posted about came from Seeds of Change, Fedco, Landreth, and Twinleaf. I'll leave a comment on your site with some of my favorite seed sources.

Ann: Oh good. I've heard such wonderful things about them and can't wait to try them myself. They're supposed to be a very early bean, so perhaps I can sneak a second crop in.

Hi Winedeb: Pole beans are very productive, so just a few pots can feed quite a few. I'm so glad the beans are growing for you! I got the Blue Coco beans from Fedco, the Pencil Pod wax from Landreth, and Yellow Indian Woman from Seeds of Change. The yardlong beans were a gift from my brother; he bought them for me at Monticello's garden shop, Twinleaf. And, yes, I'm hoping to save as many seeds as I can--perhaps we can trade seeds come harvest?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Shaun said...

Chritina ~ It is incredibly invigorating watching your garden and growing habits develop. Those of us without the oomph or the land live vicariously through you - or at least I do. What wonderful beans you're adding to the mix. They all sound intriguing, and I'm sure it was a real trial the whittle the varieties to a select few.

Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's latest? If not, I think you might relate on many levels. Worth reading.

Meg said...

Yum. I love growing heirloom beans (second only to tomatoes!). That Indian Woman Yellow bean sounds really cool--I'll be interested to see how those cook up.

Christina said...

Shawn: I have read it and very much enjoyed it. Thank you for the recommendation. I'm also so glad you enjoy reading about the garden. I hope I don't come across as some batty lady who can't stop obsessing over seedlings.

Meg: I'd love to hear more about the varieties you grow. I'll keep you posted on the Indian Woman Yellows.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite beans so far is the Dog bean, a dry bush bean, but can also be grown for green beans. It is one of many variations on the Jacob's Cattle bean. It's pretty common with beans that more or less the same bean goes under many different names, and this is no exception. It's also called Dalmation or Trout bean.

It's a kidney-like bean with nice red and white splotches.

Some people complain about it's flatuancy, and there's a 'gasless' version floating around too.

I think I also have an old packet of Indian Woman Yellow, and I might try that this year too. I thought I was going to grow a lot of beans last year, but then ended up not having a garden except for garlic, so I have a lot of old packets of seeds to grow.

If you get a 'Small Lots of Seed' import permit from the USDA, I would be happy to send you some of the beans I grow this year. The permit just requires some paperwork and for you to go to a USDA office and show ID. You also have to send me a photocopy of the permit when you get it.

Maybe when Obama is president they'll get rid of this silly permit, but for the moment it's the only way to get seeds into the US.